Vivien and I will be visiting Europe this July, and I happened to notice that the University of St. Andrews is hosting their triennial conference on Scripture and Christian Theology entitled Paul’s Letter to the Galatians & Christian Theology towards the beginning of our trip. In an answer to a call for papers (still open in case you are interested) I submitted the following abstract that was accepted!
What is still to be decided is where the emphasis for the presentation will be made. The paper will seek to address these three areas broadly, while focusing in on one in particular. Currently I see three options:
- Canonical development of Pauline pneumatological eschatology (seeing Galatians as an early starting point)
- Paul’s framing of the Spirit as the new Law (parallels with the Exodus)
- The case for the Spirit crying out (κρᾶζον) on our behalf.
The paper is still in progress, and I plan to share updates here from time to time. If you are interested in Galatians or Pauline theology I would love to hear from you over the course of the next few months.
Comfort and Longing:
The Spirit as New and Better but not Final and Best in Galatians 4
Paul’s reshaped view of Torah suggests that the post-Exodus Law was given to convict of sin and point to a future hope. Inherent in this view is the fact that the Law was never meant to be enough for Israel, but instead pointed to a greater future reality. Similarly, Paul argues that the post-Cross and post-Resurrection giving of the Spirit, while superior to the Law, also points beyond itself to a future hope and final redemption. In other words: Paul presents the Spirit’s work in a believer as a comfort (Spirit is greater than Law), but also as a longing (there is a greater reality coming). This is perhaps seen most clearly in Paul’s portrayal of the Spirit crying out “Abba! Father!” (4:6) Is Paul here presenting the Spirit as doing something on our behalf? If we are “adopted as sons” (4:5) why are we not able to cry out on our own? It will be argued that the Spirit, though living within us, is the one crying “Abba! Father!” on our behalf. An evaluation of πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ … κρᾶζον will be coupled with a review of similar Pauline passages, specifically Romans 8:15-17, where the Spirit is presented as working on our behalf. A greater reality, namely full sonship, is presented by Paul as at least partially future. A final evaluation of how Paul’s early linking of the Spirit to our eschatological hope is fleshed out his later epistles will lead to a series of possible implications in the life of the church.